A few days ago I had the amazing opportunity to do lights for the German thrash metal legends, “Destruction”. It was a dream come true for me. I was 14 when they released their first thrash metal masterpiece “Sentence of Death” and once my ears were assaulted by the hyperfast riffs and glass shattering screams I was hooked like it was Teutonic sonic heroin. Tonight Destruction was on the last date of their 30th anniversary tour and I was filling in for the hastily departed LD. I was behind a beat up Avolite board a few feet above a sold out rabid Whisky crowd. I was so caught up in the moment that I was contemplating a wicked stage dive into the whirling pit as I would set the last songs lights on autopilot. I had to actually remind myself that I wasn’t 14 anymore and I should pretend to be a professional I think I might have to atttend a crowd surfing annynomus meeting. “Hi, I’m Jef and I’m a stage diver, crowd surfer sometimes headwalker.”
After a glass of milk I came ot my senses, I had a job to do – I was there to rescue the band from a departed crew member who left them high and dry with only a week left on the historical tour. I won’t mention names but the band was still puzzled and gun shy over the embarrassment of their previous LD who up and left without saying anything. The story was recanted with wide eyes by everyone willing to talk. The story was the pansy took off without even saying goodbye having his girlfriend pick him up and run away because there was a bus breakdown and too much work and loaders were nowhere to be found and he bolted as soon as he got close to home. Bottom line, he was a disgrace to roadies everywhere loaders or no loaders which is why I’m writing this now.
After the show all I heard was the skeleton crew bitching out loud and at anyone within earshot that not having a hand was fucking bullshit. In fact as I got to the heart of the story the poor bastards hadn’t seen a loader, stagehand the entire tour. I was paid to do lights and I wasn’t about to pull a muscle over a 4×12 cabinet with an angry roadie…hell no I wasn’t 14 anymore eager to help for nothing but an autograph.
I can help another way and make their cries of agony into a possible call to arms or at least a note in an in box on some promoter’s desk. I don’t care if you’re at a VFW hall or a soccer stadium not having a helping hand is unacceptable and should never ever tolerated. In my educated, elitist, superoir opinion loaders are more important than the house LD, house FOH, the cute bartenders, production geeks, runners or anyone else not willing to hump some gear in the name of rock n roll.. In fact just about anybody that isn’t willing to lend a helping hand to get the show up and running, especially if you’re ust standing there “watching” the other people struggle with load in should be beaten with a deli tray.
It’s a scientific fact that having a loader to order around like they’re in the military can boost the sensitive moralle of a hard working mob of specialized technicians, especially a regiment on a bus trailer club tour that seems to play only venues that have stairs where stairs be. Ask any brainiac in a lab coat loaders are like hookers after one year at sea. I don’t care how you approach it dragging a Ampeg 4×10 up one stair without a helper is like driving a forklift in a blizzard of jello, slush and dead bodies without power steering…it can be done but why the fuck would you want to? (Okay it’d be cool for a minute but the novelty would disipated faster than stage fog) Last time I checked my email it’s not the dark ages the ramp has been invented and perfected and until the Government releases the secrect to levitation and teleportation having a dedicated helper making the climb to the stage less ball busting is a necessity. Hell, I suggest we lobby Congress and motion to make it mandatory!!!
An open letter to club owners and anyone else who has their fingers in the rock and roll Humble Pie.
Every big rock show promoter should supply at least one or two or four able bodied “loaders” to assist the visting crew with everything from polishing cymbals to humping the gear through alleys, over curbs, across pot holed parking lots, up flights of stairs, through greasy kitchens and past stinky dumpsters, downhills up hills, over unkempt grassy knolls, in and out of elevators, through two story windows, up and down escalators, around corners, across traffic congested streets, into and outto busy intersections, over gravel, mud, crumbling sidewalks, around the occasional homeless person, throught the land of ice and snow, over the hills and far away hurricanes, blizzards, sand storms, tornadoes, Tsunami’s, eruptions, earthquakes, incline. And at this time you might as well believe in the Great Pumpkin because there’s no such place on Earth.
Now I know I’m preaching to the perverted, I know club owners and promoters aren’t stupid otherwise they wouldn’t be putting on shows right? Hold on this just in..I’ve been informed that I’m a retard with an optimistic set of testes. Like most of my friends watching Jeopardy I’m wrong. Promoters are the devil and love and live to cutting corner so they can squeeze every last penny of profit from every fucking show. Making money and getting young girls to blow them for a pass is greedy parasites one and only concern and if this was a witch trial I cry heresy. Somehow the brown m&ms have found their way back in the bowl kids and no one is raising hell and doing something about it.
The time has come to end the constant bickering and complaining within the touring crew, with resentment and blame hanging around their necks on a lanyard of attitude. Harmony and colabration is reluctantly taking a backseat to sloppy carefree packs and deminished enthusiasm. Next thing you know without warning a spineless, pussy LD who can’t remember a pack slips away like a frightened Ponyboy before the big rumble. Let’s end the madness before he burns another church to the ground.
So what’s the plan Mr. part time LD? Well I’ll tell ya career roadie.
The solutuion is simple permantently hire a couple of guys/girls/its to help move anything in and out. I can assure you there are no shortage of eager bodies willing to push, pull, lift, carry, roll, hump case after case into the club they love to come, hang out and watch their favorite bands. Try showing up before soundcheck and you will see them hangin around outside waiting patiently like Mexicans hanging outside a home depot. Exploit…shit I mean utilize thier dedication to thier hometown rock club. It won’t cost you much…hell you’ll spend more fixing the fucking ice machines you refuse to replace because again do I have to say it…okay I will you’re fucking cheap.
Good news is you don’t even have to get too creative. Believe me $20 for the in and $20 for the out with the promise of free admission always and a bottemless red plastic cup of bar soda and you’ll have a line around the block longer than the one with the ticket holders. That’s a fact Jack. Stop comparing prices on rolls of sandpaper for the kids to wipe their asses with and dedicate the watered down drink profit to keeping inner peace backstage, on stage, in and out of the bus and truck.
Visiting crews you’re not exempt from helping them help you. The power of a sticky after show pass is “Tesseract” legendary and hasn’t fully been studied or quantified yet you know how to harness its energy. Believe me you weren’t hired for your good looks and charming personality..really you weren’t have you seen yourself you’re fucking beastial. Believe me it’s the power a backstage pass has cuz there’s no way she would sit on your lap without a blindfold or on a dare. You’ve got a noodle working shit out in that thick skull of yours that would make kids at M.I.T. quit. A free shirt and a drum stick can move mountains of gear. Can I get an AMEN!!!???
Now the poor TM for Destruction was a walking tampon absorbing nasty comments and complains all day long and it wasn’t nessarcy even if she was a girl. A couple of extra hands has the power to turn a bitter, isolated contemptuous crew into a happy gang of rock and roll outlaws who will make the show the fucking show and wear that laminate like an Olympic torch.
Loaders have been around since the dawn of time. They weren’t slaves building the pyramids they were union stage hands. Which explains the meticulous attention to detail but also the excrucitaing amount of time they took to build it. Sorry but union hands are fucking lazy. I’m no longer one of you eletists pricks so I can call em like I see em. “Do you use that belly to push or pack?” Oh and you oh godlike rigger you don’t have wings, you didn’t float and the only reason you’re above anyone is because all your shits up there…but I’ll save that for another little blog. I’m praising the lonely loaders. The unsung heros of the loading dock.
Don’t cry rigger, sure you have delusions of grandeur and an ego that can only fit in an arena but at least you can tie a hell of a knot and you’ve got good drugs.
Let’s do our part and help this bullshit economy and hire some loaders. Show the white collared stiffies how it’s done. I smell Presidential praise and Goverment grants. Loaders are people too. Have you hugged your loaders today?